By Zach Long || Contributing Writer
In late December of 2022, DreamWorks’ fan-favorite feline fighter returned to theaters after over a decade away from the spotlight. Puss in Boots, the adorable yet lethal animated cat, first appeared on screen in Shrek 2 (2004) as a supporting character. In 2011, however, he starred in his own spin-off film, Puss in Boots, directed by Chris Miller. The sequel, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, directed by Joel Crawford, has taken audiences by storm for the depiction of themes that are not usually associated with your typical childrens’ films.
The concept of “Puss in Boots” originally comes from an Italian fairy-tale that spread throughout Europe in the sixteenth century. Written by Italian author Giovanni Francesco Starparola, the fairy-tale taught readers of a talking cat who gained power, wealth, and even the hand of a princess in marriage through his trickery and deceitfulness. Fast forward to DreamWorks Pictures’ rendition of this fairy-tale classic, one can see that the story isn’t too far off, as we watch a bounty hunter cat that uses his good looks and quick wit to out maneuver foes and enhance his reputation.
Although there are important lessons to be learned from the original tale, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish also touches upon some darker themes. At the start of the film, Puss in Boots realizes that he has just one of his nine lives left. Therefore, the ideas of death and mortality play a big role in this film, since, for the first time in his life, Puss actually feels vulnerable. There is no more safety net for Puss (that being his nine lives), and he has to learn how to experience life fully in the moment. He is forced to learn how to be appreciative of what he currently has, rather than always being greedy for the next shiny item.
In this film, there is also an idea of the “mask,” and it plays a big role in Puss’ overall character. His previous nine lives acted as a safety net, but also as an excuse to be deceitful, tricky, and just a flat-out liar. Through these lives, Puss in Boots was able to forge an identity of a great feline vigilante, who is above others and only acts selfishly for his own benefit. Puss had been hiding behind this illusion of invincibility for so long that once he realizes that he is not invincible, and that he can be hurt just like anyone else, he loses himself. Luckily for Puss, he is surrounded by real friends who help him understand what should be valued, and that the mask of a title should not be.
Additionally, one of the main antagonists of the film, the Big Bad Wolf, is definitely an aspect of the film that is very enjoyable. He creates a very eerie ambiance every time he appears on screen, especially when his screen time is limited and always combined with the sharp sound of a whistle.
Lastly, the deep voice of Puss in Boots, who is acted by Antonio Banderas, constructs a comedic undertone throughout the film. The juxtaposition between a small framed cat and a deep masculine voice is absolutely hilarious, and not as surprising as you would think. Overall, this film can be enjoyed by people of all ages, and anyone can learn an important lesson or two from this film.
Freshman Zach Long is a contributing writer. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.